We met for the morning in the city hospital after making a courtesy visit to the hospital director. He is not a medical doctor but someone trained as an administrator. There are not many places I have visited, especially not in Africa, where non-doctors are considered competent to head a hospital. My Ivorian colleague told me that those hospitals headed by an administrator are generally doing better than those that are not. I am not surprised. After all, hospital administrators are trained for the job. Doctors are not.

I once had a fierce conversation with one of the aged notables of public health in West Africa who could not imagine that someone who is not trained as a medical doctor could possibly direct a hospital. It is funny how the same premises (having been trained professionally) can lead to opposite conclusions. Only if you take a closer look at the premise can you see the false reasoning.

In the morning the entire zone was without electricity. Our hotel had a ‘groupe’ (a back up generator) but it was without gas and ‘la direction’ had not responded to the frantic calls from his un-empowered staff. And so we were without electricity until we checked out. We had some fantasy about a small cup of Nespresso. Many hotels now have the little Nespresso machine and for an extra 3 dollars (a Nescafe stick costs 1 dollar) you can have cup of espresso, if, and this is a big if, the electricity works and/or they have the little Nespresso cups to put into the machine.

Although the electricity had not come back, two small cups suddenly appeared and the waitress beamed with pride, happy to bring us what we had asked for. I noticed the absence of foam and tasted the coffee.  It was hot and brown but it was not an espresso. They had simply opened a Nespresso capsule (and went back to the kitchen to show the used capsule to prove that they had not just used powdered coffee), and poured hot water over the content. The result had little to do with what I had hoped to get and tasted pretty much the same as the Nescafe powder that comes in the sticks.  I suppose both kinds of coffee have ‘Nes’ in common. I negotiated the cost down a bit but congratulated them with their inventiveness. With unhappy clients like us and management that is impervious to customer requests or complaints, they are the ones who will ultimately suffer.

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March 2017
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